Parsons Street East, 3D rendering. Courtesy ASTC, CAT Projects, and Susan Dugdale & Associates.
The architectural design for the redevelopment of the northern end of Todd Mall and Parsons Street is all but complete. The key visual features of the design are the moth-like shade structures, which will be placed in a number of clusters along the eastern side of the mall and the southern side of Parsons Street. Their central poles will be used to support much of the street furniture that at present clutters the street-scape. This includes CCTV cameras, bike racks, rubbish bins and lighting. Some of the moth wings will also become the canvas for public art work, the brief for which is also nearing completion. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
The creative brief for the redevelopment of Parsons Street in Alice Springs' CBD has won an international award.
The brief, titled Revealing the Spirit of Parsons Street, was prepared by photographer Mike Gillam who is also well-known for his long-time commitment to the preservation and protection of our natural and cultural heritage within the urban environment.
Mr Gillam was commissioned to develop the brief as part of the CBD revitalisation project.
The Green Dot Awards celebrate "excellence in green products and services". Mr Gillam's unusual entry stands alongside other first prize category winners such as the Copenhagen Wheel – an electric bicycle that generates its own energy while pedalling and braking – and the work of a Hong Kong based architectural firm, Aedas Ltd, specialising in sustainable design.
Pictured is Parsons Street now: this choked sightline will be de-cluttered in the redevelopment. Photo by MIKE GILLAM.
The revitalisation of the CBD is about a lot more than the opening of the northern end of the Todd Mall to traffic ... but what exactly?
That people, including the media, find it difficult to say reflects the absence of any kind of everyday imagining about what it could and should mean. When the Town Council last Monday formally voted that it would proceed to spend the NT Government's $5m allocation on the recommended works for the northern end of the mall and for Parsons Street, they did so without a murmur. That brought to a conclusion a process during which the council, who are the trustees of the mall, have really never been heard on the subject of its revitalisation.
All along Mayor Damien Ryan was the co-chair (with Minister for Central Australia Karl Hampton) of a steering committee involved in the planning. Whenever the Alice Springs News Online asked for a comment on where the process was at, Mayor Ryan said it was for the Minister to say – not his follow co-chair, but Planning Minister Gerry McCarthy.
When there was finally, right at the end of the process, a public meeting to present the projects developed by the design consultants, the Mayor was away on other business. The meeting was chaired by Deputy Mayor Liz Martin, who did make a few comments, but they fell short of expressing a 'vision' – an over-used word but nonetheless a necessary concept when it comes to thinking about and deciding where we, collectively, want to go. KIERAN FINNANE comments.
The ANZ carpark – from which all vegetation including mature trees was cleared on the weekend – is owned by Yeperenye Pty Ltd.
Alice Springs News Online asked the company why the trees had been chopped down and whether it was aware that it was recommended that these trees be protected as part of the revitalisation plans for Parsons Street. The company released a statement which says in part that the trees had caused "major water ingress problems" to the adjacent properties. The statement does not respond to questions about the revitalisation plans. Pictured: The scene of destruction last Saturday seen from Leichardt Terrace. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Mature trees, including red gums, have been chopped down in the ANZ carpark on the corner of Parsons Street and Leichardt Terrace. Yet these very trees were supposed to be protected for their contribution to the Parsons Street "biodiversity corridor" that is envisaged as part of the revitalisation of the CBD.
The plans for this and other projects identified after a three year consultation process are currently on display at the Town Council, which has $5m in its kitty to start the work.
The idea of the biodiversity corridor is to connect the ancient red gum west of the Sails with the Todd River. Mike Gillam was commissioned to develop a creative brief for the project and wrote about it extensively for this site on October 13.
In the brief he advises specifically that we "protect existing mature red gums including those in the carpark behind ANZ. These provide a vital stepping point in the sightline between the [ancient red gum] and the river". It's now too late. Pictured: The scene of destruction this afternoon. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
UPDATE:See below for statement from the landowner, Yeperenye Pty Ltd.
I was commissioned to provide creative direction for the eastern end of Parsons Street from the ‘ancient red gum’ to the Todd River. Public art and design projects of the scale envisaged provide a rare, perhaps once in a generation opportunity to define our sense of identity and place.
The dramatic natural environment is regarded as the common ground that binds us all together and this is crystallised in the biodiversity corridor proposed for Parsons Street. I've also highlighted the critical importance of distant landmarks and the availability of winter
sun. Too often these public assets are only valued and recognised, when they are lost to the streetscape: casualties of 'progress'. MIKE GILLAM writes.
Pictured: Top –Right – Magpie Lark. These birds are frequent visitors at outdoor cafes around town. Photographs copyright MIKE GILLAM.